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For Photogs: Tips for Second Shooters

I have been on both sides. I have worn the hat of second shooter for different lead photographers and for years have been a lead photographer with a second shooter. For that early chapter in my photography career when I was a second shooter I learned so much about my craft and bits and pieces of things I wanted to incorporate one day into my own photography business and others I wanted to do differently. It was a wonderful experience and one I am so grateful for as it helped lay the foundation for where I am today as a photographer! 
Today I wanted to share some things that in my opinion make for a strong second shooter. Oh how I learned the importance of these things early on as I second shooter and now truly value in Chris as we shoot together! 
Be Proactive. Dare I say it, I have found being proactive as a second shooter is one of the most important and useful qualities if not THE most important. As a second shooter, most of the time you are in a supportive role to the lead shooter. You may be asked to carry bags and equipment, keep track of the timeline, help gather and organize family for photos, etc along with photographing the events of the day from new and alternative angles from the lead shooter. It's thinking AHEAD of what is coming up and what the needs will be for the lead shooter. This may include knowing what camera and lens the lead photographer will need to switch to in order to shoot upcoming family photos and getting that out and ready. Or it may be knowing they will need the light stand set up before the reception starts and getting that done. It could be having directions and gps programed for the next destination or photographing the flower girl off to the side twirling in her dress as the lead shooter is capturing candids of the bride and her father. Whatever it is, it's about 1) thinking proactively about what the needs will be and helping problem solve for any hiccups that arise in order to make things go more smoothly for the lead photographer 2) along with documenting the day from a different perspective. More on this coming in an upcoming blog post! 
Representing the Lead Photographer's Studio. You may not second shoot with just one photographer, but maybe a few different lead photographers. However, regardless of who you are shooting with at the time, you are indeed accompanying that lead photographer's studio. It's important to conduct yourself professionally which includes wearing appropriate attire that blends in well with the lead photographer's style and the guests. So don't be afraid to ask the photographers you are shooting with ahead of time what the appropriate attire is as some studios dress more formally and others much for casually. 
Because you are representing the studio you are accompanying, DO NOT hand out your own business card. When I was a second shooter, I would be asked for my business card from time to time and would let the guest or vendor who was asking know that I was second shooting with XXX studio that wedding and would provide them with the lead photographers card if they wanted one. 
Leave Your Ego At the Door. I think this goes without saying, but it's important to remember that as a second shooter you are there to make things easier for the lead photographer and capture the day from new angles. It can be frustrating not being able to photograph bridal portraits because you are packing the bags or missing the money shot of the first kiss because you are off to the side shooting. But I can say that this is where I really grew as a photographer when I was second shooting... Instead of getting frustrated, I worked with what I could and the angle I was shooting from. I looked at it as a personal challenge to try and get the most beautiful photo I could regardless of the condition and limitations I had because I wasn't the lead. Documenting weddings over and over again not from the main or best angles helped me become a stronger photographer because I had to look for different light, different backgrounds, different perspectives. This has helped me as a lead photographer to know that the main obvious angle may not always be the most intriguing and beautiful, taught me to think outside the box while shooting and helped me give direction to second shooters. But all this was possible by leaving my ego at the door and embracing and knowing what I was there to do as a second shooter. 
Smiles Upon Smiles. Sometimes things can get a little stressful during a wedding day, but oh how the power of a smile can effect things. This is one of the things I love about Chris - he is never short on smiles or a cheerful disposition! It's easy for me to get that "thinking something through" and problem solving look on my face during a wedding day. But lets be honest, that "deep in thought" face may look like I'm not happy or having fun. It's important to know that wedding guests are looking at us even when we may not realize it and the look on our faces can reflect their perception of our desire to be there, our brand etc. If we look frustrated or tired it may seem like we don't want to be there, which couldn't be further from the truth! Not to mention, as a second shooter, your smiles and attitude can help and effect the lead photographer's stress level and attitude. Chris smiles are definitely contagious! :) 
Here are some pics of the best second shooter a photographer you could ask for!! Okay I know I am slightly biased, but I couldn't do this without him! :)

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